The Gatekeeper

5. Shadow’s Scion

Of rivalries past, a grueling fast ongoing, and a mysterious staff of power (also, hot shadar-kai on elf action)

The heroes escaped to Sigil, where they holed up in a tavern, licking their wounds. There, they rested from their travails—all except Brandis, who had sworn an oath not to sleep or eat until he had completed his final test. While the test was technically complete, he had not received the final investiture of wisdom and so he forced himself to remain awake and fasted for day after grueling day. During his ordeal, he worked to eliminate from his mind the tainted teachings of the book that had proved Funikashi’s downfall. During the process, his mind seemed to expand and a latent psionic talent to throw his senses manifested. He could project his eyes and ears far from himself, making him a natural spy.

Meanwhile, the elf Sunic lingered in the heroes’ proximity. He seemed interested particularly in Ysabelle, who reminded him of someone he knew, as well as Tristan, the son of two of his former companions. Apparently, Sunic had adventured with the elf paladin Linn (Tristan’s father), the silver dragon Elyse (Tristan’s mother), the wizard (Ellerin), and a few others. Tristan suspected Sunic had something to do with the disappearance of Linn, and had trouble keeping rein of his emotions around the sneaky elf. Ultimately, the paladin confronted Sunic despite his obvious trepidation, and they came quickly to harsh words and ultimately to blows.

The discussion revolved around the mysterious rod Tristan had been assembling, which had a name for the first time: the Gatekeeper Staff. This item had been shattered into seven pieces and scattered throughout the planes. Tristan’s quest involved reassembling it and finding a worthy successor to its wielder, Ruha (the Gatekeeper). Sunic speculated that Ysabelle (who had proved startling self-possessed for a seeming child) was in some way connected to Ruha. Aside from an uncanny physical resemblance corroborated by many accounts, Ysabelle seemed to demonstrate a strong affinity for the staff Ruha had wielded.

The magic of the staff held true: each of the pieces would lead to the next in the sequence, and it was by this mechanism that Sunic (who possessed the piece previous to Tristan’s) had tracked the heroes. Tristan suspected Sunic meant to steal his piece—a theory borne out when the elf insisted he take the pieces for safe keeping. A battle nearly ensued, from which Tristan fled through a portal to the mortal world of Toril to keep the staff from Sunic. (He would return shortly, having touched bases with his mother and decided to carry on the quest.)

Shortly thereafter, the remaining heroes found themselves in a fight with the elf, who they suspected of having done something to Tristan. Sunic held his own: he wore a cloak seemingly woven of shadows, which allowed him to vanish and strike from hiding, and wielded two wicked swords. Razor’s radiant powers proved extremely useful against Sunic, but it was not enough. The elf severely injured Vayne and nearly killed J’Div and Brandis before Ysabelle stepped forward to negotiate a ceasefire. Sunic gladly agreed.

The elf was about to leave before Vayne surreptitiously made her way to his room for a private word. Once there, she kissed him and whispered that no one had ever hurt her quite like he had. Then she disrobed.

TO BE CONTINUED!

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